This workshop will present a comprehensive psychodynamic theory of S/M that can be used to inform and guide therapy with individuals and couples whose lifestyles involve sadomasochism, dominance and submission, sexual fetishes, eroticized role-playing and other expressions of BDSM. We will start by addressing the question of why many healthy people are drawn to the practice of BDSM, and go on to look at how our theoretical understanding might inform our therapeutic practice. The myth has been that people who do S/M are pathologically self or other destructive. Experience of consensual S/M players refutes this notion, witnessed by healthy and productive lives of many who have practiced BDSM for decades. Our theoretical understanding is based on the notion that we can reclaim parts of ourselves that have been lost or banished to the Shadow by eroticizing them, so that the S/M interaction becomes a sort of sexual psychodrama. Thus, desires for an S/M sexuality might actually be based on a healthy drive toward integration. Participants will learn about the realities of S/M play. One basic principal is that when you plan to light a fire, you are well advised to build a fireplace first. How do people create physical and psychological containers for these experiences? How much containment is possible? What about the boundary between fantasy and reality?
Dossie Easton, MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in San Francisco, is co-author with Janet Hardy of four books about BDSM: The Bottoming Book, or How to Get Terrible Things Done to You by Wonderful People; The Topping Book, or Getting Good at Being Bad, When Someone You Love Is Kinky, a guide for family and friends, and Radical Ecstasy: SM Journeys to Transcendence. They are also co-authors of a book on polyamory, The Ethical Slut. Ms. Easton has been offering professional services to the communities of sexual minorities for the last twenty years, and before that, as an educator and counselor, since 1969. She is currently supervising two interns preparing to work with these populations, and sometimes offers CEU trainings to professionals. She has more than thirty years training and experience working with survivors of domestic violence and child physical and sexual abuse.